An exploration of our Earth's ever-captivating fauna through musings on the bizarre side of Zoology, Cryptozoology, Paleontology, and Paleoanthropology

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Primitive, Knobby-Skulled Pareiasaur Discovered

A new Permian era (266-252 million years ago) reptile has recently been discovered in northern Niger, suggesting that an isolated desert on the supercontinent Pangea had a unique fauna of its own. The newly discovered animal was a pareiasaur, a form of herbivorous reptile common to Permian ecosystems. This animal had a body which was about the size of a cow's, with bony scutes called osteoderms on its back. The feature which especially made this reptile unique were the large, bony knobs which adorned its head; the largest of any known pareiasaur. These large cranial knobs were likely covered in skin, similar to those of giraffes. Due to this strange feature, the new pareiasaur genus was named Bunostegos, meaning "knobby [skull] roof." Even more intriguing is a discovery made through analysis of the specimen, which revealed that the pareiasaur was part of a primitive lineage isolated in the region for millions of years. It appears that several Permian reptiles, amphibians, and plants were isolated in this centrally located desert of the Pangea supercontinent due to its unique hyper-arid conditions which discouraged other species from entering. Due to this isolation in such a harsh climate, the animals living in the region possessed novel adaptations and anatomical features which are evident in their fossilized remains; thus helping us gain a better idea of what some of the truly bizarre fauna during the Permian period was like. To read more about this intriguing discovery, go to this link: Pareiasaur: Bumpy beast was a desert dweller

Saturday, June 22, 2013

New Book on the Natural History, Evolution, and Anatomy of Pterosaurs

Thalassodromeus sethi shown consuming a juvenile spinosaur, by paleoart genius Mark Witton.
Paleontologist and remarkable paleoartist Mark Witton has recently announced that his new book Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy has been published. The book regards the evolution, anatomy, functional morphology, and taxonomy of pterosaurs, and contains 200 illustrations throughout 26 chapters according to Witton's website page on this exciting publication. Thankfully for paleontology interested amateurs like me, Witton's new book is meant to be approachable for people who do not have intimate knowledge regarding these intriguingly bizarre flying reptiles. Mark's stunning looking book is apparently the most up to date publication on these animals yet, and it even features new proposals on the hypothetical ancestral species of pterosaurs! As a fan of Mark's beautiful paleoart, I was very excited by his statement that the amount of new illustrations which he had created for this book was partly the reason for the two and a half year wait for its publication. Many of these illustrations apparently depict pterosaurs in never-seen-before situations, and do take an All Yesterdays approach according to Witton. This new publication is also stocked with diagrams and graphics, such as skeletal diagrams and muscle reconstructions.
A diagram depicting the intriguing structure of pterosaur wings, as evidenced by fossils.
(From Mark Witton's book)
Mark has generously shared Chapter 1 and Chapter 17 of the book as sample chapters, which preview how truly remarkable this book is. I have yet to purchase a copy, but I certainly will as soon as possible. I think this book will be definitely worth obtaining, and I have shared a link to where you can purchase the book on Amazon here. To read more about this exciting, new book by great paleoartist and pterosaur specialist Mark Witton, check out this post on his blog: Mark Blog: Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy: o...